Cartilage Repair: Opportunities In Motion-Preserving Orthopedics
This article was originally published in Start Up
Start-ups and investors are looking to address the large and growing gap between palliative treatment and major joint surgery for patients with cartilage damage in the knee, toes and hands - although the FDA is putting up more roadblocks than ever before. In this issue we profile Articulinx, Carticept Medical and Orthox.
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Researchers have been working for years to develop a reliable and cost-effective means of regenerating the hyaline cartilage found in the knee, with the aim of offering a minimally invasive treatment option for the millions of patients with painful knee osteoarthritis. Although this goal has been elusive so far, recent progress suggests the field may have turned a corner, and a large number of companies are now competing to win this quest, which many refer to as the “Holy Grail” of knee OA.
Osteoarthritis affects almost 21 million Americans aged 25 or older, and is most prevalent in the hand. The need for an alternative to long-term drug therapy for treating early stage hand OA is a vastly underserved market that Silicon Valley-based Articulinx Inc. hopes to address with its Intercarpometacarpal Cushion, a spacer device used to augment cartilage in the basal joint of the thumb.
UK-based Orthox Ltd. has developed a meniscus replacement technology derived from the high-strength silk proteins found in spider web. The company is hoping to offer the best long-term, load-bearing solution for this underserved segment of the orthopedics market.